Monday, 6 October 2008

Tips for Saving Money

Here are some "Top Tips" for saving money in the economic downturn:

Good ideas here, though growing citrus in your basement using grow lights is not an option for many people (is "citrus" a euphemism here?).  I would add some, which my legions of readers can add to:

1) Sick Of It already mentioned hanging clothes to dry instead of using a dryer.  Just to amplify that, I wanted to point out the amazing energy sucking of the typical dryer.  The Which? Best Buy tumble dryer from Bosch, for example, uses about 2700 W (5.72 kWh per load).  As an example, using London Electricity's 19.86p/kWh, each load would cost you £1.14.  That doesn't seem like much, but my family seems to do about a wash a day (usually several on weekends and fewer during the week).  If we used a dryer, it would cost us £414.28 per year.  That savings covers the rest of our electricity use combined!

Now, you might be thinking that it isn't practical to dry everything on a line, especially in grey, rainy London.  Well, we worried about that as well, but it hasn't been a problem for us.  Even when we have to bring our wash inside to dry, it seems to dry in at most a day.  This might not work in extremely humid places like Lima, Peru, where I remember hanging jeans in the winter and finding them growing mold before they dried, but that is not the norm.  

2) Staying on the topic of electricity, it is a great idea to figure out which electronic devices in your home use "vampire power."  These are devices that use electricity even when on standby.  I bought an Ecosaver from, and checked out all of my electronics.  It turned out that my Freeview box, phone charger, washer, microwave, and computer all use about 3 watts when not in use, which would cost me £26 per year FOR NOTHING.  Now I switch them off when not in use.

I should note that I was pleasantly surprised to find that the charger for my new iPhone does not use any power once the phone is charged.  This is new for phone chargers, and burnishes Apple's eco-reputation in my book (despite the ignorant Greenpeace condemnation that was debunked by Steve Jobs).

3) I used to keep the water running when I washed dishes and brushed my teeth.  It turns out that this is extremely wasteful.  For some reason, Thames water does not disclose their rates on their website.  So, I can't easily calculate how much that cost me.  However, I did a little test, and discovered that I used 2.7 liters of water to brush my teeth with the tap on, and only about 350 ml when I turned it off.  Brush twice a day, and you save 5 liters per person per day just this way!  I did not check the dishwashing, but I am sure washing a sinkfull with the tap running uses tens of liters. 

I will be posting more information like this in the future as soon as the election is over, since that is the actual focus of the blog. However, I will keep riffing on economics and politics from time to time after November...

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